BCHA is an organisation committed to do all it can to provide as much support and services as it can during the COVID-19 outbreak.
As a charitable homelessness and social housing organisation we recognise the many challenges this presents.
We will be working hard to provide services and support, in line with government and NHS guidance and will adapt to the situation as it changes in the coming weeks and months.
The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines
- The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.
If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
- Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
At the current time and based on our understanding of what is known of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory viruses, it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease. As more information emerges, recommendations may change.
In particular, we draw your attention to these government website links for more information.
COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
Will BCHA’s supported houses stay open?
Yes. All supported accommodation and services remain open but are restricted to essential services. We will notify you if we need to make changes to this.
We believe that no one should be evicted because of the coronavirus, and want anyone affected by the outbreak living in our accommodation to be reassured they will not be evicted.
As charitable organisations, housing associations recognise that a number of people living in social housing work for low or irregular wages in insecure employment and may be placed in serious difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We urge anyone living in any of our housing who is worried about financial difficulties, to get in touch with us now. We can talk though any concerns and offer additional help or signposting to the right people, including help claiming benefits. Please call your Housing or Tenancy Officers or the Income Recovery Team directly if you have their number, or via the main Customer Services on 01202 410500.
Contact BCHA’s other offices with enquiries about repair requests and any concerns with your rent or tenancy.
Gabriel House Exeter
Staff are on site 24/7 and can be contacted to relay any urgent issues out of hours and information to your tenancy sustainment team.
Please call 01392 258899 during working hours (9am-5pm) and 0300 1234 002 out of hours.
George House Plymouth
Staff are on site 24/7 and can be used to relay any urgent issues out of hours and information to your tenancy sustainment team.
Please call 01752 664441 during working hours (9am-5pm) and 0300 1234 002 out of hours.
Yeovil Office for supported customers and tenants
For non-urgent enquiries call 01935 411618 during working hours (9am-5pm) and 0300 1234 002 out of hours.
For urgent help with a repair or rent issue, please call Ali Cox, Tenancy Sustainment Officer on 07966 808872 during working hours (9am-5pm) or Sarah Pundyke, Tenancy Sustainment Assistant on 07966 808895 during office hours (9am-5pm).
South Hams or Exeter supported customers or tenants
If you live in South Hams or Exeter and need support or have any concerns with maintenance, please call Gabriel House on 01392 258899 and 0300 1234 002 out of hours.
For any concerns about your tenancy please call Lottie Hayes, Tenancy Sustainment Officer Exeter on 07966 800295 during office hours (9am-5pm).
Plymouth supported customers or tenants
If you live in Plymouth and need support or have any concerns regarding your tenancy or maintenance please call Kirsty Matlock, Tenancy Sustainment Officer on 01752 825601 or 07646 481954 during office hours (9am-5pm).
Dartmouth supported customers or tenants
If you live in Dartmouth and have concerns regarding your tenancy or maintenance please contact Shirley Orrey, Tenancy Sustainment Assistant on 07464 496637 during office hours (9am-5pm) or 0300 1234 002 out of hours.
We welcome the steps taken so far by government and its commitment to do whatever it takes to support jobs and incomes. However, we urge that the government goes even further to strengthen the welfare system to ensure that everyone who needs it can quickly get help if their income drops.
Will you continue to repair and maintain my property during the outbreak?
Please don’t worry. We are here for you and we'll be working hard to prioritise emergencies and health and safety repairs; but we are sure you understand that means putting the needs of our most vulnerable customers first.
Like all businesses, we are having to change the way we work in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our customers and colleagues, and this includes cancelling all non-essential repair appointments.
For this reason we would ask that you do not call us unless your repair is an emergency, which if not completed, carries the risk of immediate injury to people or major damage to property. You can email urgent repair requests to email@example.com or call 0300 1234 001
These are the emergencies in which you should call us:
- Gas leak
These should be reported immediately to the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
- Total heating failure
If you have no heating and no alternative source of heat or hot water (i.e. no fire in the property or no electric shower).
- Total loss of electricity
Including a dangerous electrical fault with electric sockets or lights.
Live or bare wires or electricity in contact with water.
Breakdown of white goods such as a washing machine, if you are living within BCHA’s independent\supported living services.
- Major structural damage
Caused by fire, flood or high winds.
- Total loss of water
Including a major water leak and if you only have one toilet and you cannot use it, and you have tried to unblock it.
- Security failure
If your external (outside) doors and windows (ground floor) are not secure.
- Damage to your stairs or bannisters
If this poses an immediate risk to you or anyone in your home.
If you are unsure if you have an emergency, please contact New Leaf Repairs on 0300 1234 001
We also have several 'DIY Repair' videos to help you carry out minor repairs in your own homes https://www.bcha.org.uk/customer-hub/report-a-repair/basic-home-diy-guides/
What safety measures is New Leaf Repairs taking to protect us?
We will be continuing to carry out compliance-related safety checks and remedial works including gas servicing and electrical testing in your home. This is to ensure your health and safety and to meet the requirements of our regulator, so please continue to allow us access to your homes.
We have also put extra measures and safeguards in place to make sure you are protected. These include Personal Protective Equipment for our operatives, which they may wear on their visit to your home.
How are you stopping the spread of the virus when you visit us at home?
We are following Government advice in relation to 'social distancing' and would ask that you advise us immediately if you are self-isolating.
If an operative visits your home to undertake emergency or compliance related work this is what will happen:
- The operative will knock your door and stand back at a safe distance. Two meters if possible.
- They will ask you: “Do you have the virus or flu like symptoms?
- If you reply yes they will not enter your property at this time but will arrange to contact you by phone as soon as possible.
- If you are self-isolating the operative will enter with your permission and observe social distancing during the repair.
- The operative will ask you to go into another room while they carry out the work.
- They will wear protective clothing at all times - gloves/mask/eye protection/wipes.
- They will wipe down all surfaces before and after they finish work (this includes door handles and any hard surfaces.)
- If you are visited by a Gas Safe representative they will not need your signature at this time.
If you are concerned about any aspect of this, please contact us, and we can discuss individual measures we can put in place to reassure you.
What about BCHA staff working outside my property?
During this period, you may continue to see our operatives working outside on external repairs. This is being done in safety.
Please be assured that they are following social distancing advice and we would ask that you do not approach them while they continue to work outside of homes.
Can I still come in to the St Swithuns office?
No. Following government guidance our main office in Bournemouth, St Swithuns House, is now closed but we are still here to help you by phone or email.
We recognise the additional impact this may have on our customers’ mental health and we have increased the phone and email contact with our tenants so please ensure we have your latest contact details.
Please make your non-urgent enquiries by phone on 01202 410500 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Is the mental health drop-in at St Swithuns still on?
No. The mental health drop in at St Swithuns on a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon has been suspended at the moment. Please call 01202 410500 or email email@example.com with any important questions you may have.
Citizens Advice is also excellent and can be reached at www.citizensadvicebcp.org.uk
Connection is a 24/7 phone helpline for people of all ages in Dorset who are experiencing mental health issues and need support. Call 111 and select ‘mental health’ or dial 0300 1235440 to access support as part of the Dorset Crisis Response Service.
Is my BCHA course still going ahead?
No. For the time being we have postponed all BCHA Ignite, New Directions and New Leaf Allotment courses. Customers booked on to courses will also be notified personally by phone or text and will be contacted with start dates when courses resume.
What if can’t pay my rent?
We know that some of you are worried about how you'll pay your rent if you have the virus or need to self-isolate. Please contact us as soon as possible if there is a risk you won’t be able to pay your rent or other charges to us. We are here to help and can offer advice about paying your rent or claiming benefits. Please call us on 01202 410500 and ask to speak to a Housing or Income Officer.
I’m worried about older people living near me – is it ok to go and see them?
We would urge people to look out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours to ensure they are OK, but do so by phone or by talking through their front door or closed windows. Please contact us if you have any concerns for a neighbour’s wellbeing.
Am I getting all the benefits I am entitled to?
www.turn2us.org.uk is a very good site with a benefits checker so you can check you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to.
Can I apply for Universal Credit during this time?
This link will take you to important help and advice regarding claiming Universal Credit during the virus period.